I grew up in South Florida, a place where being called “friendly” is not seen as a compliment. Maybe it can be blamed on the Florida native and rapper, Plies, whose words, “I ain’t friendly” virtually became a state motto. Maybe it is because of how thug culture has influenced the world in general. However, all I know is that where I’m from, being friendly or warm to a stranger was seen by most as a flaw—and a detestable one at that. In fact, the word is now even used regionally as an insult.

Christ is The Difference

Seven years ago, when I walked into a church of more than 1000 people as a non-believer, God used one thing to turn my heart towards his grace: the love the saints had for each other. I wasn’t used to seeing that kind of friendliness. Since then I learned that Jesus said to his disciples, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). The display of sacrificial love, trust, and warmth that I saw and felt in the church opened my eyes to God. In light of that, what I see being displayed in churches now alarms me.

No New Friends

Many of the Christians I know have adopted a mentality that says, “You can’t sit with us!” As a result, they foster cliques and divisions in the church. They blatantly support the mantra of “No New Friends” while other Christians are left without rich fellowship, spiritual protection, and accountability that can leave them as targets of a fierce and restless enemy (1 Peter 5:8).

As Christians, we know that being an island to oneself is an unbiblical and a dangerous practice. Therefore, let it not be said that we as believers are forcing people onto that island. Instead, let us be known for our grace towards fellow Christians who may be marginalized by others.

When the Goodness and Loving Kindness of God our Savior Appeared

Why should we welcome and extend grace to outsiders? Because when we were outsiders, God welcomed and extended grace to us. The Apostle Paul gives this reason as he pens his letter to Titus regarding his congregation: “Remind them…to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” (Titus 3:1, 2-5).

Paul reasons that we should be gentle and show courtesy to all because we were once just as whack, ratchet, and dead in our sins as everybody else. The only thing that saved us and the only thing that sets us apart today is the grace and mercy of God. We shouldn’t carry ourselves as if we are better, cooler, or more important than others, because if the grace of God didn’t come for us, we would remain in our ruins. Let us humble ourselves.

Stand Down

Let’s shake off the “mean girl” persona and allow God to use us to reach all people, not just our “ride or die” friends. After all, we really don’t know who is hurting or close to walking away from the Lord. Psalm 68:6 says that God sets the lonely in families. Let’s be that family for one another. The church shouldn’t look like a high school cafeteria, with divisions by age, race, marital status, or swag level. Instead as the time for Christ’s return draws near, let’s encourage each other, that we may not be deceived by sin (Hebrews 10:24, 3:13).

And if you ever find yourself struggling to be Christ-like in this way, consider this: if Jesus had the “No New Friend” mentality, we Gentiles would all be doomed in our sin.

Who can you be gracious to in this way this week?